With so much conflicting info right now and it always being easier to find horror stories over positive accounts of getting a TN at Pearson, I wanted to add my experience to the bunch and hopefully ease someone's anxiety. I had a lot of it.
I went through Pearson yesterday (Sunday) and received my first TN for 3 years with no issues at all. I was the first and only one going through at about 5 AM after an overnight layover. It didn't take long. Most of it was waiting as they reviewed my documents. When I was called up for questioning it was very simple: who are you working for, how did you come across the opportunity (through a recruiter), what work did you do in Canada before this, can you explain your visits to the US? My answers were short.
As for the last question, I was in the US for 6 months out of the past 12 months as a visitor, wanting to spend a lot of time here before committing to working here. Half tourism, half taking job interviews. I had to specify that I was NOT working during these visits, as I had flexibility as a freelancer back in Canada and was staying with friends in the US while I considered it. It was definitely something I expected to be questioned about, but it wasn't a problem, and it wasn't asked about in an accusatory way.
I didn't get any questions or concerns related to COVID. Nothing about if I was essential or if my company was remote right now. I know that all work is considered essential travel right now and that TNs are supposed to be given, but I've definitely read stories where these facts were ignored by officers. My job is in NYC and is remote right now, but I still need to be in the city to have access to company materials. Anyway, it didn't come up.
Some more info:
Technical Writer job that perfectly matched Technical Publications Writer under NAFTA
I have an arguably relevant degree (not clearly relevant) plus 4 years of arguably relevant experience
Support letter didn't mention any dates, only specified a duration of 3 years
Hope this helps someone. I was personally anticipating this to be much more difficult from all the things that I read, but it was extremely easy. I speculate that this time of little to no travel happening might be the best time to get a TN, since they're dealing with so few people.
I also overheard the other officers there talking about how they "might as well pass every TN right now" in regards to people who have already had a TN and need a new one. Make of that what you will.